Monthly Archives: January 2011

Genesis 22 – Sacrifice

Missing Genesis 22 page

Proof that i do make mistakes.

Take 2:  The second time’s a charm (or more of a charm) in this case.  I actually pulled out the page that my first version of Chapter 22 was on and just redid the entire page.  Here’s a picture of the first version.

A very long time ago i stopped believing in coincidences.  I kept seeing God’s hand at work in what seemed to be insignificant and random situations.  I began to understand and see God’s work and has His hands even in the little things.  Sometimes i would start to see the connections right away, other times it would be a while before it started to become clear.  Other times i never saw any connection at all.   As a result, i try to make it a point to keep an eye out for those kinds of situations.

So i have been trying to find the connection between the event (my messing up that chapter), the missing verses (7-8), and the content of the chapter.  So far i haven’t made any connections.  I find it interesting that the two verses that are missing are the dialogue between Abraham and Isaac about where the sacrifice is, and that Abraham tells him that God will provide (has provided?) it.  It almost seems like the missing page is like the missing sacrifice… only they don’t really connect beyond that statement.  I know, i’m pulling at straws here… but then sometimes when you pull at straws, you end up finding a horse that you would not have found if you had just let the straw go.

In this chapter, Abraham takes a risk.  It’s not really a risk… at least not the kind he thinks, but it sure must seem that to him.  On the one hand, he loves his son very much.  This is the son that he has been wanting and waiting for for possibly over a hundred years.  This is his promised son.  Yet God, the LORD, YHWH turns around and tells him that he must give up / sacrifice his son.  This is the same God who had promised and provided him with this son.  This is the LORD that gave him this joy in his old age.  This is the same YHWH who now asks him to do the impossible.  So what does he do?  He obeys.

What seems to Abraham to be a loss is, because of his obedience, an amazing blessing in disguise.  God sees / helps Abraham to see that he loves and worships nothing more than YHWH.  As a result, what could have been lost, became a symbol of love.  So what does that mean for us?  Do we have something that we are risking putting between us and God?  Is there something that we make more important to us (lord over us) than the LORD Himself?  That could be a relationship, a job, a self-centered attitude, a grudge / unforgiveness, a theology (belief about God), or something else entirely.  God may be asking you or i to give that thing up on the alter to Him.  Are you, am i willing to do what God calls us to?  What could happen if we do?  What will happen if we don’t?

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Chapter 22 – Take 1

Well, it was bound to happen.  It’s what happens when you get up really early, are too tired, and attempt to do a project of this detail and magnitude.  I went through, finished my chapter itself.  I went back to fill in the spaces with the names of God, and i realized that somehow i completely missed verses seven and eight.  This is where Isaac questioned Abraham about the offering and Abraham told him that God would provide.

So tomorrow i’m going to have to go back through and either redo the section, redo the entire chapter, or redo the entire page.  That’s one of the problems with handwriting something.  If you make a mistake, you can’t just undo and redo.  You have to fix it, adjust to it, or start the page over from scratch.  It kind of forces you to re-think how you do things.  It requires that you think through what you want to say before you start saying it, lest you make a mistake and have to deal with the consequences of it.  That part of the process is definitely a positive and a negative.

O.K.  Tomorrow we start this chapter over again, and possibly do chapter 23 as well.  We’ll see.

 

John Camiolo Jr.

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Genesis 21 – Promises

What is it about promises?  We make them.  We take them.  We keep them.  We break them.  How much do they really mean?  What are they really worth?

For instance, God made a promise towards Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son.  He fulfilled it, and at the time that He said that He would as well.  Sarah finally received the fulfillment of God’s promise with the birth of Isaac.  Hagar also had received, and receives again a promise that Ishmael would become a great nation.  In this chapter God provides for her and Ishmael, taking a step towards the fulfillment of His promise towards them.

At the same time, other promises are, and are not made.  Abimelech, seeing that God blesses everything that Abraham does comes to Abraham seeking a promise.  He reminds Abraham of his kindness to him in regards to the incident with Sarah.  Abimelech had been righteous in his actions and dealings, so God had prevented him from sinning by sleeping with Sarah and he acted righteously towards Abraham.  So, knowing that God blesses all that Abraham does, he comes to Abraham seeking a promise that Abraham and his descendants will never deal falsely with Abimelech and his descendants.  Together, Abraham and Abimelech make a covenant with each other that neither would deal falsely with the other.  So the promise is made.  At the end of the chapter, we see just who Abimelech is.  He is a Philistine king.

We know, especially from Judges and Kings, that this promise is not kept.  The Philistines are the primary antagonists to the Israelites in Judges and Kings.  They attempt to make the Israelite people their slaves.  They even steal the Arc of the Covenant.  Their promise has no lasting value.

What’s more, is the promise that they didn’t make.  They made a promise with Abraham, whom God was blessing, but they never pursued a promise with the God of Abraham.  They were more focused on the things of the world that they ignored the very source of Abraham’s blessings.  They never pursued the true God.  That was a promise lost.

In looking at the promises and fulfillments; I suppose that the value of a promise is very much dependent upon who is making what promise, to whom, and why?  What promises have we made, and to whom?  Are we fulfilling our promises?

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Genesis 20 – Righteousness

This is one of those chapters that sometimes i just don’t get.  So God has been blessing Abraham everywhere he goes.  God has watched over him, taken care of him, prospered him, protected him, etc., etc., etc., but Abraham still see the need to fear people’s response to him and the beauty of his wife (who is by the way, more than 100 years old at this point).  He allows them to take his wife away… why?  Because he doesn’t think that God can/will protect him?  I mean come on Abraham!

I have to be careful about what i say and how i criticize Abraham in this situation.  God treated him as if he had done the right thing, or at least as if he had not done the wrong thing.  Just because i don’t understand it, doesn’t make it not true.

What i can say though, is that King Abimelech appears to be the righteous one.  He takes Sarah, who he believes is unmarried, treats her well, doesn’t touch her, listens to God, returns her to Abraham, and gives Abraham gifts for himself and sacrifices to cover all sins.  Because of Abimelech’s righteousness God protects and speaks to him.  If he had not been righteous to start with, he would not have heard from God, and he would have been destroyed, he and his family.

Do we reside in the righteousness of God?  In a situation like this would we have heard God calling out to us?

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Genesis 19 – Influence

This is another chapter where, through this process, i began to see things i don’t remember noticing before.  What is there and what i process, especially when i am just reading it, don’t always fully overlap.

In going through this today, i noticed that it wasn’t just the angels that the people of Sodom had turned against.  By Lot sticking up for the servants of God, he was put on the firing line as well.  Lot had been living with the people of the valley for many years at this point.  He knew what they were like and how they would respond to strangers in their city; hence his insistence that they stay with him in his house rather than spending the night in the town square as was normal for travelers who have not been given guest accommodations.  After finally begging them to stay with him for the night then to leave at first dawn, the people decided to knock down his door.  He tried to reason with them, and they reacted by calling him a stranger and threatening to put Lot’s life in jeopardy as well.

Why the hostility?  Because Lot was “judging them” and they didn’t like being judged.  Does that sound familiar?  It sure does to me.  We are living in a world that is becoming more and more critical of people judging sin.  It’s funny because that criticism of judgment, is judgment.

Ultimately, Lot had had the opportunity to influence the people of Sodom, but in his time there, he did not appear to have any real influence on them.  In fact, his very son-in-laws not only stayed in Sodom choosing to be destroyed, but they were a part of the crowd coming to tear down his door and kill him to get to the strangers that were there.

On the other hand, the sin of the group was beginning to have an influence on Lot and his family.  When they fled, Lot’s wife’s desire was for that place.  She did not want to leave, but chose instead to turn back.  She joined the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the influence she allowed that place to have on her.

His own daughters had been influenced by that place.  When Lot finally followed the instructions to go up to the mountains (out of fear and not respect), instead of having faith in their father and God; Lot’s daughters pursued the sexual immorality by getting their father drunk and laying with him to bear children.  Even Lot himself was not fully unaware (and resistant) of what was going on.

As a result, his daughters bore the Moabite and Ammonite nations.  Two nations that continued to draw the Israelites away from God.  The influence of the corrupter was like a cancer.  It crept in and slowly destroyed Lot and his descendants from the inside out.

What are we allowing to creep into our lives?  What are we allowing to influence us?  What should we be fleeing from that instead we are ignoring?  Where is the line between influencing and being influenced?

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Genesis 18 – Responding

I’m finding, as i do this project, that things that i have previously learned and assumed don’t always work out the way i expected them to. For instance, over the previous chapters we have been looking at the life and times of Abram. Now i know this story well, and i know that Abram becomes Abraham. I have heard and read it since i was a child. However, in spite of the fact that the transition occurred yesterday (Chapter 17), i am having a very difficult time making that transition in my mind and writing. I have gone to write Abraham, and i keep writing Abram. It’s very annoying. It’s just after having spent so much time writing Abram, it’s difficult to make the transition even though i have been prepping myself for it since i uncomfortably started writing Abram instead of Abraham.

That having been said, i was also very perplexed in part of this chapter. In Chapter 17 God tells Abram, to be called Abraham, that he will have a son through Sarai, now to be called Sarah. He tells Abram that this will occur in the same season in the next year. Now, God tells Abraham that within a year Sarah will be holding her baby, and Sarah laughs? She already knows that this is supposed to happen. Hence she has been being called Sarah instead of Sarai. So why is she surprised by the idea that she could/will be holding her new baby within a year?

Finally, i was trying to process the relationship between Abraham and God. Abraham is bold enough to question God and His decisions. He is confident enough to stand in the face of God and say, “You’re THE Judge. You aren’t actually thinking of destroying Sodom if there are 50 righteous people in the city. That would just be unjust and wrong!” Then God turns, actually takes the comment seriously, and makes clear his plans.

To me, it’s interesting the ways that God’s people respond to the things He says to and about them. How do we respond when God speaks to and about us? Do we laugh and doubt Him? Do we confront Him and seek / demand clarification? Do we even hear or acknowledge that He is speaking to us? Do we even recognize the freedom we have in our relationship with God?

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Genesis 17 – Abraham

To some extent, i really don’t understand this chapter. It just seems like a repetition of previous chapters with some more clarification. It doesn’t seem like there is too much of a need for it. God has already made these promises to Abram, but it almost seems as though He is making the promises all over again. Like somehow the first time didn’t matter.

I believe that this was just a reminder and clarification for Abram’s sake. After so much time had gone by (~23 years) it would be easy to lose sight of the promise and it’s promised fulfillment. So God took it a step further. He not only reminded Abram of the promise, He made it even more real.

God gave Abram a new name. Abram went from “exalted father” to Abraham “father of nations”. Sarai went from “leader / head / director” to Sarah “Princess”. The promise became even more real with the promise that Sarah would bear a son in approximately one year, and that God would continue to bless Ishmael. Of course, there was still the issue of circumcision, the outward expression of the covenant. The physical expression that would forever stand as a physical representation of the promise between God and man.

So, the question comes; have we lost focus of God’s promise for us? Is there something that God has told you that you have lost due to the busyness of life? What do we need to be reminded of?

Worthy of note as well, this is the first appearance of the name God Almighty (El-Shaddai).

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